LGBT activists bristle at DUP support for minority government ahead of pride celebrations

We are nearing the end of this year’s pride festival, which is taking place between June 24 and July 9.

Various events are attempting to encompass the ‘Viva la Vida’ slogan tied to many celebrations this year, promoting inclusivity through confidence in oneself.

Participants are encouraged to take part in at least one of the activities across London, of which many are taking place in south west London, in recognition of the area’s vibrant LGBT+ community.

The sheer range of events taking place can be seen to accurately represent the diversity of the LGBT+ scene in London, long considered as one of the best and most disparate in the world.

Yet, merely days into this year’s pride celebrations, it was announced that Theresa May’s much maligned Conservative party had agreed a £1.5 billion deal with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in order to support her minority government.

The Northern Irish party’s 10 MPs will support the Conservatives on key issues in such as the Budget and Brexit.

In 1977, the DUP infamously launched a political campaign, ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy’, in an attempt to prevent the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland.

Despite Paisley’s campaign, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 1982 that homosexual acts must be decriminalised in Northern Ireland.

However the issue has remained potent for the DUP.

In 2007, Ian Paisley Jnr, son of party founder Ian Paisley, called homosexuality ‘immoral, offensive and obnoxious’ and said he was ‘repulsed’ by gays and lesbians.

When pressed on these comments in 2013 by David Dimbleby during an episode of Question Time, Paisley Jnr was equally unabashed.

“I am repulsed by people who are not homosexual as well sometimes,” he said.

The party have staunchly opposed same-sex marriage, and have vetoed several attempts to pass new legislation.

Concern has also been raised about some in the party’s lack of awareness of wider health issues — last year DUP politician Trevor Clarke said he thought that only gay people could contract HIV.

Francesca Whalen, 23, a Clapham resident, shared the anger and disbelief felt by many in the LGBT+ community on hearing the news of the ‘coalition of chaos’.

“I think the Conservatives’ willingness to engage with the DUP in a confidence and supply deal shows a complete disregard for LGBTQ people across Britain,” she said.

“The DUP are a virulently homophobic party who used peace process systems to block marriage equality despite it passing with a majority in the Stormont Assembly.

“Most crucially the DUP can now point to support from the Westminster government for their platform and claim legitimacy for this homophobia. This is devastating for LGBTQ people in Northern Ireland,” she said.

Pride organisers intend the event to be a time that we celebrate the diversity and dynamism of London and the United Kingdom as a whole.

Many in south west London’s LGBT community are determined to continue with the celebrations while opposing the DUP in a constructive way.

Joe Stanley, LGBT Catholics Westminster pastoral council chair, said: “We should oppose them – but by all democratic means!”

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